When I met a woman from another spiritual group in Kona, she heard that we do gassho at our Zen temple, Daifukuji. She asked me what gassho is. It is so normal for me to do gassho that I didn’t think about other people not understanding it. This person I talked to was sincerely interested.
I explained that we do gassho when we put our palms together, and raise our hands in front of our face, about a fist’s width away. We keep our fingers straight, our hands at 45 degrees upward. We hold our elbows slightly out from our bodies. This is the recommended way, but everybody does it their own personal way, too. We are fully attentive and present.
“What does it mean when you do it?” the woman asked.
I told her that it means that we are sincere, open and grateful. We gassho to greet another person, to say hello, to say thank you, and to ask for something in the humblest way. We offer gassho out of deep respect. As we bring our hands together in gassho, it means that we are all one, together, connected and not apart.
We use gassho with a bow. We bow to the Buddha in the other, as ourself, and in all beings and in all things. When we bow in gassho, we and the person to whom we bow are one, not two. And gassho stands for the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.
Gassho is a beautiful act. It is a natural act. Gassho is a symbol of the truth of life.